Halloween morning started as bleak, gloomy and grey as Detroit Sounds Like This got ready to spend the day with Funk Night Records DJ and Owner Frank Raines and headliner for tonight’s return of Funk Night: Rickey Calloway. Rickey, having only arrived in Detroit a couple hours before, was up and ready for a mini Detroit tour and a photo shoot. We packed into the car and headed downtown. Our first stop was Greektown to catch the People Mover (free parking of course doesn’t hurt either). We proceeded to hop on and head towards the Renaissance Center. We snapped a few shots, explored the buildings, and then rode the People Mover to loop back to Greektown. As we explored and talked about how invigorating and significant the places in the city we were venturing to made us feel, our day really started to awaken some magical vibes.
We headed down West Grand Boulevard to Hitsville USA, the heart of the Motown Sound. All of us, myself included, had never set foot in there until just yesterday. We walked around, heard the tour guide sing Motown classics into the ceiling to demonstrate the echo and re-verb, observed the gold and platinum records on the walls, and really just soaked in the importance of what the place we were standing in has contributed to Detroit and to cities of musicians all over the world . The end of the tour was the cherry on top of the sundae — energy in the recording studio was unbelievable. Just decades ago some of the greatest songs we know and love today were created inside the detached garage we were standing in. We could tell that Rickey was overwhelmed with inspiration and excited; about 4 hours later he was going to a studio with Will Sessions and Frank to record a new song.
Once we were finished up at Hitsville U.S.A., we headed over to Woodbridge Pub to grab some food and began a Q & A interview with DJ Frank Raines & Rickey Calloway.
C: Funk Night recently went on a year and a half, almost two year halt, was there a reason behind this?
F: I was trying to bring it back to the warehouse vibe, because the Majestic Theater every weekend was having a huge party, it was becoming played out, they were having parties every weekend and it was just getting repatative. Then we found another spot and we got permits and there was some back tax issues, and that kind of set Funk Night back.
C: Meanwhile Detroiters have seen Funk Night Records releases as far as Russia. Funk Night Records has become a very well known name throughout the world, how did you achieve all of this?
F: I have really amazing artists that I work with, I try to make sure everything is top-notch quality, and that the music will speak for itself. I also make sure to get the records in the right DJ’s hands, so certain people would be playing the records and people would want them.
C: How did you sign the The Soul Surfers from Russia to Funk Night Records?
F: A guy named Misha in Russia, hes a record collector and hosts a Funk Night style party in Russia and he sent me a few demos, and I thought they were sweet and said ‘Yes lets do this.’
C: Back in 2008 Funk Night received the award for ‘Best Party in America,’ by PaperMag in NY. How were you guys nominated and what was it like receiving the award?
F: I dont even know how that happened. Someone told me one day that we were nominated and then we won. So we went to NYC with a small crew and our award was presented to us by Andrew W.K., it was a pretty good time.
C: Frank you have one of the largest funk and soul 45 collections, when did you start collecting and listening to funk? Where is your favorite place to crate dig?
F: I started collecting in the late 90’s, I was really into collecting 45’s especially. I dont have a specific place that I go, I go to yard sales, and random spots that are selling vinyl.
C: Funk night has gone through many venues over the years, stretching to the CAID, Hoban Foods, The Russell, St. Andrews with it more recently settling at the Majestic Theater, where was your favorite place to host Funk Night?
F: I think my favorite was probably Hoban Foods, it was the first night we introduced Rickey Calloway to Funk Night. I just love the warehouse vibe for funk night.
C: Moving forward 2013 and beyond, where do you see Funk Night and Funk Night Records heading?
F: Putting out some sweet records, go on a worldwide tour with the band from Russia, and possibly bring the Soul Surfers to Detroit.
C: A few months back I was on the web and saw a post that featured a neck tattoo of your logo from a fan in Russia — sounds like you have some seriously dedicated fans, what was your reaction when you first saw that photograph? Do you know anything else about that tattoo, like who it was or when he got it?
F: It was awesome, I realized then how seriously Russia is taking to the funk. I’m actually friends with the guy now, he was super cool and of course since he has the Funk Night Records logo on his body I send him huge packages with all of our latest vinyl releases.
C: When did you begin your career in music, and what made you decide on the funk genre?
R: 1968, I watched the T.A.M.I show which showed Motown artists like The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, and my favorite James Brown. When I saw that I had never seen anything like that before, I was mesmerized. I went to school, and we would be coming out of rest periods, and I was a guy who would like to joke around and laugh a lot, so I would pull my pants up, spin around and say ‘I’m doing the James Brown.’ Then guys started taking me seriously, and they would tell people to ‘watch Rickey do the James Brown,’ and the crowd would get bigger and bigger. I then realized ‘This was nice,’ which made me enter the schools talent show. There was about 1000 people there, and that was it. I was about 13 years old when I did this talent show, 1000 people screaming and dancing in the crowd. It was great.
C: Being from Florida, how did you and Frank meet each other?
R: I was on the internet one night, I think I was on MySpace, I was kind of just searching along and typed the keyword ‘Funk.’ That is when I found Frank’s Funk Night page. I saw all this cool stuff about Funk Night, and said ‘This is cool,’ so I sent Frank a video, and he corresponded back and he liked it, and then Frank said ‘I gotta get you up here.’ My first reaction was ‘This guy is nuts, its not gonna happen.’ Then after a few more emails he sent for me and I did Funk Night at Hoban Foods. I had such a good time in that warehouse.
C: You have quite the stage presence, how do you keep so active through your performances?
R: The music, The Will Sessions Band just has that magic that energizes me, when I am with those guys I don’t think about time, I’m just having fun. I feed from them, I can’t really explain it. Funk Night is one of my better venues, I have so much fun in Detroit, I cant explain it.
Ricky stops in the RenCen to take a photo with a fan:
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FUNK NIGHT:
Below is the latest Funk Night Records release:
Soul Motivators “Until The Sun Goes Down.”